Sunday, March 8, 2009

Pre-Cap: Capitals vs. Penguins

Tyler Kennedy was triple-dog-dared to lick his frozen stick...

Washington Capitals (40-21-5, first in SE, third in EC)
Pittsburgh Penguins (34-26-6, fourth in ATL, ninth in EC)

This game seems familiar. A team on the edge of a playoff slot needing to play near-flawless hockey through March versus a team that is firmly planted in the playoffs and gearing up for a postseason run...

Sounds a bit like March 2008, when Nicklas Backstrom scored the game-winning goal for the Penguins in their final meeting with the Capitals in the 2007-2008 season. This time, it's the Capitals who have the lead in the series and, with a win today, the Caps would sweep the Pens this season.

In the last meeting, the Capitals flat-out dominated the Penguins. In that game: Alex Ovechkin broke a home scoring drought against the Pens, Brooks Laich scored from behind the net, Marc Andre-Fleury was chased out of the net in the second and Sidney Crosby got an earful from Ovechkin.

Now Crosby and the Pens come to Washington with some new faces in Bill Guewith one last chance to "make it all right." Since losing to the Capitals Feb. 22, the Penguins have gone 5-0, scoring 17 goals in that run and allowing nine.

The subplot of Ovechkin vs. Crosby will likely dominate the game yet again, but the Capitals need to regain their focus and play an inspired game of hockey. Petty rivalries between superstars will only lead to trouble for both teams, and the Capitals can't afford to play from behind again.


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